Friday, our first full day in Miami, was filled with a mixture of work and play. Upon arising early, we tackled the clogged kitchen sink. After taking apart the drain and cleaning out “God only knows what” from this fixture, we snaked the drain hose to make sure it was open. A little while later and Voila!, it works like new.
Mid-morning, we dinghied in the half-mile distance from the mooring field to the dinghy dock, and spent a while in the marina using wifi. I arranged for a mail-shipment from our mail-forwarding service to Miami. I reserved a car-rental, and afterwards we took the Coconut Grove trolley to within about a half mile of the Hertz rental agency. We walked the remaining distance to pick up our rental which we will used for the next week here and also for our upcoming trip to Lakeland to work for a few days.
Upon returning to Beatitude, we tackled another chore on our to-do list: Marking the anchor chain. When we purchased the chain several months ago, we had painted red a small section of the links every twenty-five feet. This is done so that, when dropping anchor, you can know how much anchor rode you have out. Well… it didn’t take long for the paint to fade into near invisibility. So, we decided to use colored wire-ties to mark the chain. We have 200’ of chain and 100’ of line. For the first 100’ of chain we marked it every ten feet. For the second 100’ we marked it every twenty feet. This was done alternatingly with fluorescent pink, orange, yellow, green, and blue markers. We dropped the anchor and chain overboard at our mooring ball and measured as we went. As with most boat chores, this turned into a little bit more of a production than we had planned. Nevertheless, it was eventually completed, and we felt happy that another item of maintenance was taken care of.
I said our day was a mixture of work and play. So far – all work and no play! But, after marking the anchor rode, we cleaned up and headed to perhaps the best pizza restaurants on the face of the earth. I know I’m not qualified to make that claim, having only eaten at a small sample of the total number of pizza places in the world. But, it is good. We ate there previously on trips to Miami. It is a nugget of Italian authenticity in Miami Beach called Fratelli La Bufala. The red wine, salad, and a “La Parma”, a thin-crusted masterpiece topped with mozarella, basil, and prosciutto, was perfect. Oh… and the bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar – amazing! Alright, enough salivating.
From there, we drove a few blocks north in Miami Beach to the New World Center, a contemporary, Frank Gehry designed building which houses the New World Symphony. The New World Symphony is comprised of graduates of distinguished music programs who are preparing for leadership roles in professional orchestras and ensembles. Fifteen-hundred young people compete for about 35 available fellowships each year. Each fellowship can last up to the three years. The center provided for an excellent experience. The audience surrounds the orchestra in seats which rise fairly steeply from the stage. This makes for a cozy atmosphere in which no one is far from the orchestra.
The music was wonderful. The program consisted of an orchestral piece from Richard Wagner’s last opera of his Ring Cycle, Gotterdammerung (Twilight of the Gods), followed by Johannes Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat major. The third movement andante was near heaven. The virtuosic playing of the moving piano melody contrasted with the wonderfully emotive cello was marvelous. Cindy and I had a wonderful evening of food and music to cap our busy day of work.
Saturday morning, we turned our focus to work again. I’ve been very displeased with our energy management aboard Beatitude. It seems we have to run the generator everyday to keep up with our energy needs. I’d like to be able to manage our energy needs without having to run the generator at night. We have a battery bank of about 1000 amps. We have solar panels that generate up to 40 amps/hour of electricity during a sunny day. Yet, this doesn’t seem quite enough to meet our energy needs without depleting the battery bank below acceptable levels. I had Matthew, who runs a business (AMPS) from aboard his sailing vessel, Coup d’ Amour, over to look at things. We performed an energy audit and then began to examine our system and see what improvements could be made. The diagnosis: We just want to use too much electricity! We have a refrigerator and freezer, which in themselves draw 150 amps/day. This leaves little power left for our other needs and/or wants (ipads, iphones, computers, tv, dvd player, lights, water pumps, bilge pumps, vhf, sub, electronics, microwave, hairdryers, toasters, etc.).
This is a good news/bad news thing. The good news is that our batteries seem to be fine. Our solar panels really crank out the amps on a sunny day. Our generator charges the battery great. In other words, everything seems to be working well. The bad news is that we need to cut electricity use. The big energy hogs are the refrigerator and freezer. So, we have decided to replace our existing freezer (which is relatively new) with a slightly smaller one made by Engel that will use approximately 35 amps each day. And, we are going to go refrigerator-less! By doing both of these, we will free up ~115 amps/day of electricity for our other needs. Oh, and additionally, we replaced our LCD TV with an LED TV which uses less than one half the amps of our old one.
Coincidentally, during our diagnostics on our electrical system, our hot water heater went out. So, we have also ordered a new 6 gallon hot water heater to replace our present one. And, while we are spending money, we’ve ordered a Wirie AP+ Wifi booster to allow us to pick up shore wifi from aboard Beatitude while up to 5 miles off shore. I’m hoping it works as well as the testimonials say that it does.
On Saturday afternoon, we set the work aside and walked up to Cocowalk in Coconut Grove to watch some Georgia Bulldog football. Our Dawgs are looking like a very good team right now. They handled Arkansas easily this week after totally dominating Missouri the previous week. After watching the game at Duffy’s, we returned to the boat for the evening.
Sunday, we attended church at Christ Episcopal Church in Coconut Grove. Cindy and I really enjoyed the service at this assembly which was founded in 1901 by a group of Bahamian immigrants. Afterwards we did a little shopping at Target and had lunch at Chart House by the marina. In the evening we enjoyed watching Million Dollar Arm on our new LED television.
Monday marked the 35th anniversary of our wedding day. We were married on Sweetest Day in Barberton, Ohio in 1979. Since then, our life together has been exciting and rather unpredictable. For the next 14 years, we worked together in various ministry positions in Superior (Wisconsin), Atlanta (Georgia), Grampian (Pennsylvania), and Berwick (Pennsylvania). Then, in 1993, I resigned the church of which I was senior pastor, and we began the next phase of our lives. I returned to school to study medicine. For the next eleven years, I was in school and residency. Then, in 2003, we moved to Lakeland, FL where I began a career as an emergency physician in the hospital at which I still work. Along the way, we’ve had three wonderful children, now aged twenty, twenty-nine, and thirty-four. Of course, two years ago, we sold virtually everything we had and moved aboard Beatitude. Now, we are cruising, presently located in Miami. We certainly wouldn’t have imagined this trajectory for our lives 35 years ago. Cindy has been amazingly flexible and able to adapt to all of these changes in our lives. Instead of driving us apart, our experiences have brought us closer. And, our marriage is stronger today than it ever has been.
After some morning boat work, we celebrated by returning to one of our favorite restaurants anywhere, Pascal’s on Ponce, a wonderful French restaurant in Coral Gables. We ate here earlier this year on Valentine’s Day, and decided to return for anniversary since we enjoyed it so much. The food and service is magnificent. We decided on the “Degustation Menu with wine pairings.” Our six courses were so wonderful! Making the whole experience feel just a little more like we were back in Paris (we visited France on our 30th wedding anniversary), our waiter was a French young man named Damien, from the south of France. After dinner, we made our way back to Beatitude aboard our dinghy, again filled with an inch or so of water from the afternoon rains.